The Household CFO: Home Financial Taskmaster

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2012-05-1214

In every household, somebody’s got to handle the finances — whether it’s the Mister, the Missus, or both, running things as a team. And in our case it’s moi. We figured long ago that it’s easiest that way so that we don’t get into each other’s nerves by sharing custody of the finances, though knowledge of what goes is always shared and large decisions are mutual. I’m also a bit more of a control and order type of person who has a bit more skill with organization and multi-tasking, and has a bit more patience with numbers tracking, recording and even following market figures as they jump around and fluctuate each day. So it was more of fitting the task to the strength.

I’ve evolved into the family Chief Financial Officer, or as the CFO of our own lives, as some have put it. So I’m listing the different tasks I normally do on a regular basis to manage our money, just as a gentle reminder to my other half that when I sit in front of the computer, I’m not just surfing idly on the net. I’m actually working!

Busy Pic

We’re late thirtysomething Generation X-ers in the middle of the financial grind right now, with our hands full raising a couple of kids and like everyone else, trying to build a bright future for our family. Here’s the kind of stuff I deal with to operate our finances:

Our Household CFO’s Tasks, Responsibilities and Regular Operations

Maintain and stick to a budget
Balance the checkbook
Receive checks and make deposits
Do online bill pay
Withdraw money for daily use
Pay bills and creditors

Maintain insurance proper records
Keep track of the flexible spending plans and claims status
Pay house, property, health, auto, disability (long and short term) and other insurance
Pay life insurance
In the future, consider other insurance requirements and make appropriate adjustments

Estate Planning
Create wills and associated documents
Establish trusts
Keep beneficiaries and estate plans updated

Loans, Credit and Identity
Review credit card statements
Review the mortgage statements; keep our eye on the long term rates
Review credit reports regularly

Take part in benefits such as commuter fares, profit sharing
Manage the 401K account
Review group insurance
Sign up for flexible spending plans

Perform portfolio check ups and balancing
Research real estate property opportunities
React to market and life changes with appropriate investment moves
Fund the kids’ 529 accounts
Fund the retirement accounts
Research investments
Check on Upromise account
Maintain automatic savings plans

Home Business
Perform accounting
Keep tax records
Perform e-commerce and web site maintenance and support
Check on income generating ventures

Do record keeping
Organize charity giving process, donations
Meet with enrolled agent (tax guy) annually to do our tax return

Handle repairs (usually means outsourcing opportunities)
Handle maintenance issues
Handle necessary improvements
Host garage sales and put things in consignment

Visit Costco for bulk items
Shop with coupons
Buy on sale
Visit garage sales/estate sales/Craigslist purchases

Phew! Welcome to our financial life. So what does YOUR financial task list look like? I’m personally curious to know how others handle theirs. Are you as overwhelmed as I am sometimes?

Created February 25, 2007. Updated May 12, 2012. Copyright © 2012 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Bernard February 26, 2007 at 6:29 pm

Wow! thanks for listing out all your tasks! Man, it’s a tough job. Usually, we just let the person fully in charge of household finance run the show without giving much thoughts of what could be the lists of tasks.

ispf February 27, 2007 at 11:30 am

As a gentle reminder to my other half that when I sit in front of the computer, I’m not just surfing idly on the net. I’m actually working!

Good one 🙂

Seriously though, this is a good list. In our household we dont have a CFO 🙁 Or maybe we are both CFO’s 🙂 Either way’s this list is very handy and reminds me that we have a few “unassigned” tasks, mainly related to record keeping, that someone needs to start keeping track of! Thanks!

Moneymonk February 27, 2007 at 2:57 pm

Wow ! you have a big, time-consuming job.

I cannot say my list is that long, but we may do 1 of each category.

Silicon Valley Blogger February 27, 2007 at 3:04 pm

Yes, without lists, I would be lost! 🙂 I thought maybe this would be my attempt to improve the organization in our financial set up. I’d be interested to see other people’s lists though, in case I missed anything!

Hic August 23, 2009 at 4:59 am

I found this post ! wow!

I would like to say that after reading this post, I was decided to make a list and try to organize my job .. and I was inspired by this one and followed some steps on it .. and it worked fine ..

I would like to say, after this long period, thank you !

Silicon Valley Blogger May 12, 2012 at 11:57 am

These days, using PFM software (personal financial management software or system), may possibly be helpful. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to talk with someone at Finovate 2012 who happened to be part of the software team that’s behind Money Desktop. They may be another management system that you can look into besides (which is quite a popular choice for budget hounds).

NJ Magician May 13, 2012 at 8:16 am

Great post — great list! My wife and I divide the responsibilities. She does most of the heavy lifting (she’s a domestic engineer)–I help with the more strategic decisions. The only thing that I would add to the list is to do some ongoing education — for example — my financial life improved dramatically upon reading “The Millionaire Next Door”, “The Millionaire Mind” and “Stop Acting Rich”, all by Thomas Stanley.

Steve May 13, 2012 at 9:29 am

I used to be the CFO of our household, but I turned it all over to my wife a few years ago because we both felt she didn’t have a good enough understanding of our finances – where the accounts were, etc. I’d recommend that in families where one adult is the primary CFO that there at least be a bit of a “once a month review” to know where the money is going, where the accounts are and so on. But it’s a great idea to have a list – one should be a list of activities, and the other a list of “financial contacts” like banks and brokers. And one other supereasy tip: make a xerox copy of all of your credit cards once a year so you have all that information easily available.

Silicon Valley Blogger May 13, 2012 at 10:35 am

@NJ Magician,
I just checked your website (I try to check those site owners who leave comments on my site), and I was quite entertained by your videos. I would definitely hire you for any child’s party! 🙂 Thanks as well for your thoughts and recommendations on those books by Thomas Stanley. I have two out of three of those books!

Great suggestions! I think that both partners in the household need to have a full understanding of the family’s finances; it often becomes a problem when only one holds all the control. While this kind of “division of labor or roles” is good when the family is intact, things can change down the road (for some reason or other, which we all don’t really want to think about if we can help it). But it’s always better insurance for the family to have all the heads of household know and understand how its finances are being run and managed, just in case there’s a need for either head to step in and do the job. I also like your tip about making copies of your credit cards! I would extend that to making copies of all your most important papers or items (esp those in your wallet/purse).

NJ Magician May 13, 2012 at 7:30 pm

@Silicon Valley Blogger,
Thanks for your kind words! Are there any other books that you would recommend to someone who wants to be a “Household CFO”?

Derek May 14, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Very nice list of tasks (responsibilities) for the Household CFO or Home Financial Taskmaster… I like the titles you’ve used. But, what happens to the non-CFO spouse if the CFO is in an accident and becomes disabled or suffers an untimely death? Will the other spouse have the information they need to continue paying the bills, make a claim on any insurance benefits, transfer assets or move accounts as necessary, or just simply know where to begin? I am the CFO in my home and I have provided my wife a 3-ring binder of organized information… I call it the Home Financial Management binder. That way she has all the info she needs if something happens to me. Great post!

Silicon Valley Blogger May 14, 2012 at 4:13 pm

@NJ Magician,
I’m going to plug the book of a fellow blogger because I find it to be a nice and comprehensive tome on financial management. Check out “Your Money, The Missing Manual” by J.D. Roth of It provides a good, general overview of personal finance and touches on a wide variety of money topics. Definitely worth a read!

You make great points: you emphasize the importance of making sure that nobody is left in the dark when it comes to handling money matters at home.

Roy May 15, 2012 at 9:21 am

As my household CFO, I use YNAB to keep our finances in order. I find that using the software to budget our spending, means more goes to savings. I don’t want to sound like a shill, but there’s a big difference between Quicken type software and YNAB.

Silicon Valley Blogger May 15, 2012 at 11:48 am

Now that you mention it, YNAB is something I’ve covered here before. I’ve reviewed it comprehensively and found that a lot of people do like the product. Nice to hear that you’re one of their satisfied users. If you have the chance, perhaps you can share what it is about it that you like over other software packages.

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